Monday, May 18, 2015

Land of the Rising Sun

In my letter to Alex, I only asked a few questions so I'd be more likely to get answers. Yeah, that didn't help. I asked him to tell me the best and worst of his week. I used to ask him (and my girls) every night what his best and worst of the day was and I miss hearing it. I also asked him to tell me a story and asked if he had any questions about anything back home. I asked what was something he learned from the members in his new area so far. And then I asked him what was one of his favorite things about his companion. At least he answered the last question. Here's his response.

So much happens over here, that I'm not sure what would be my best of the week, but nothing bad has happened this week, so there's that. 

I don't have any stories to share off the top of my head either, sorry!
One of my favorite things about my companion? Hm... Probably the dance he does when he's bored. But he only does it in the apartment. I've learned sign language from the members here, or at least some signs. I don't know of anything off the top of my head that I've learned from them otherwise though. 
This was Alex's explanation of this week's photo session.
A member has ninja/samurai costume stuff and let
us use it last p-day. We had fun posing for it.

People may have wondered, as have I, why Japan is called "the land of
the rising sun." Part of it has to do with the Kanji 日本 (pronounced
knee-ho-n), which translated means Sun's origin, but I think there's
another reason for it: the sun rises at 4 o'clock every morning. Maybe
that's just crazy to me because I'm from Utah in a city that snuggles
the mountains like a giant teddy bear. I don't know.

I don't think I've done the above kanji before, so I think that will
suffice for the Kanji of the Week. Therefore, let's move on to the
summary of the week!

Monday: We skyped home in the morning, and then after we had all
finished we went to an indian curry place for lunch, and it was really
good. The nan bread there is super delicious. After that we went
shopping for various things (I didn't get anything personally), and
the majority of time was spent getting groceries. We then met a member
at the church, and got to dress up like ninjas and samurai. It was
fun, because we had stage weapons to play around with. At night, we
entered in records to our area book app.

Tuesday: We went in the early morning to seminary, and then a little
while after that went back to the church for District Training
Meeting, and that was great. I was able to feel the spirit so
strongly, and I really loved the spiritual message one of the sisters
gave about how we haven't been called to be loved, but to love; even
if we are hated in return. We then tried to hand out English class
fliers at a busy part of town, but the sky decided to rain, and rain
hard, so there weren't too many people out on the streets at the time.

After that, we biked over to a potential investigator's house (the
rain had let up a bit by that time), and we had a good lesson. The
children are crazy (in a good way), and the mother seemed to have some
interest in what we had to day. When we left, she saw that I had no
rain coat with me (I didn't think it was going to rain, so I didn't
pack one; I did have a sweater to keep me warm though), and so she
gave me a rain poncho to use.
We then had an English lesson with one of the sister missionaries'
investigators. The lesson went well, but the kids didn't want to stay
for the entire time. We ended up having to entertain them for the
entire time the sisters had a lesson about the gospel, but it was
okay, because they're fun kids.


Wednesday: We had a normal morning, and then we went to the church for
a sign language class the members have every week. It was lots of fun,
and I learned some new words there. We learned it from deaf members,
so I'm sure they're valid words too.

Right after that, we had a home teaching visit with a couple in the
ward who came to the class. We talked about the most recent
conference, and it was pretty funny listening to them talk about it,
because the husband didn't remember much, and the wife said "that's
because you were sleeping half the time!" So don't worry, if you fall
asleep during general conference, you're not alone; it happens to
people in Japan too.

We then entered in information into our iPads again, until it was time
for English class. I teach kids class with Elder G., and the only
kids to show up were the kids that we taught English to the previous
night. Since it was just them, it was a lot easier, and we just read
books with them in English.

 Thursday: We went again to seminary (I don't think I've mentioned yet
that we go every other day Monday-Friday, the other elders go on the
days we don't, so we can translate for a recent convert we have who
goes and doesn't speak Japanese), but besides that, the majority of
the day was spent entering in records to the area book app. We did,
however, take a break from being in the apartment and went to go see
if we could get into a sign language circle, or if they even existed
in this city, at the city hall. They didn't have any free ones though,
and the others were too long of a period for your average missionary
stay in addition to costing quite a bit of money.

 Friday: We had weekly planning right after studies, and then we
entered in the last of the records. That took the whole day basically,
but we did get to go to the church and shred the paper records, and do
an activity we do every week called "fun Friday." The only two people
to show up besides missionaries were a young woman member, and one of
the other elders' investigators. We had a good time with a special
musical number from the sister missionaries, a spiritual message, and
card games though, so I can't complain.

Saturday: We had DCS this day, and right after that, we got together
with some members and english class students and went to a park to
play soccer. We goofed around with the soccer ball for a while, and
ended up playing monkey in the middle for a while. We also played an
"actual" game of soccer, and that was fun!

When that ended, we changed back into regular missionary clothes, and
went to visit the person we visited on Tuesday. The mother had invited
her friend and her kids over, and we had a great time with them. The
gospel part of it was good, and they asked some good questions. After
that was English class again. Not too much to add about that though.

Sunday: We had a great time at church, and taking the sacrament is
always a great experience. After church, we had the priesthood men
gather and practice a song for the upcoming district conference we'll
be having soon. With only short practice, the men are already sounding
really good. We also had a lesson with our recent convert, and he is
doing well.

Besides that we stayed at the apartment the rest of the day and stayed
busy with studies. Also, every week on Sunday my companion has to do
call in reports with the zone leaders, so that took a chunk of time.

I hope you all have a great week, and that you can see the Lord's hand
in your lives. I love you all!


Elder ____ 

I'm not sure why he took a photo of this (or sent it to me). It's Elder H. looking at something through a small magnifying glass.

This tastes like liquid banana Laffy Taffy

On the left side at the bottom, this soda can says "Please shake the can at least 10 times before opening" and it has jelly cubes in it.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


We got to Skype with Alex on Mother's Day for about an hour. It was fun to see him and he's looking good. He still doesn't like to converse much so we had to try to pull stories out of him. He did tell us that one thing that happened recently is that he was riding his bike down the road when a small bird flew right into his face. SMACK! That was quite a surprise for him.

Alex told us that he is going to spend the rest of his life as a missionary in Japan because he loves it so much. Of course, he can't do that, but I'm so glad that he's enjoying it while he's working.

He also mentioned that in the Aomori Prefecture where he lives, they have Christ's grave. How many of you have ever heard that he was buried in Japan? The local folklore says that he didn't actually die on the cross. His brother Isukiri did, when he took Jesus' place. Alex said they said he then took his brother's body to Japan where he lived for the rest of his life. When I looked up the story online, it says that Jesus took only his brother's ear with him, which is buried there next to Jesus. There is a museum there where you can pay to see the graves and buy Jesus mugs and things. Alex said most people there don't actually believe it, but the articles I read made it seem like some people really do believe it. Very interesting for a country where almost no one is Christian.

I grabbed this photo from online.
His letter this week:

This week I got to call home, and that means its been quite some time
since I've left on my mission. It was nice to talk to them, and I had
fun using my iPad to skype them.

The kanji of the week is: pronounced Nani, and means "what?"

This week's summary is going to be a bit shorter, because not all of
the week is on my electronic planner. But this is the last week that
I'll ever say that I forgot my planner, so that's good.

Monday: we went to a recycle shop, and at the end of the day we had a
meeting with all the missionaries in our district (4 elders and 3

Tuesday: we went to go fix a tire on one of the bikes, and somehow the
extra tire got stuck in my bike tire and pedal. We had to ask a person
who lived near by to help us out. It eventually came off after we cut
through it all. We got a new tire, and fixed the bikes the rest of the

Wednesday: we tried to go to a few parks, but no one was there again,
so we just housed for a while. We spent a long time traveling, so that
took most of the time before we went to English class. English class
itself was good, and I don't have anything new to add about it.

Thursday: we went to a far away park to check out a festival that a
member wanted us to go to. We had fun there, and we're able to see
lots. We also visited a member for home teaching, and we got a bunch
of snacks for a family home evening activity with the ward on

Friday: we took a long train ride up to Aomori city for a zone
training meeting. We had a great time there, and we're able to learn
lots. We then took another long ride back home, and studied for the
rest of the day.

Saturday: we basically only did preparation for the family home
evening event, and it was great. The sisters were great at explaining
what it was, and I had to translate for a recent convert who doesn't
know Japanese, but knows English. We had fun games and activities, and
it went well.

Sunday: we had church, and afterwards we had a pot luck with the
members. We also had a lesson with the the recent convert, and I got
to skype really quick with one of my MTC teachers. The Rest of the day
was fixing the bike the rest of the way, and studying.

I hope you all have a great week. I love you all!


Elder _______

Monday, May 4, 2015

New City, New Experiences

Alex sent just one photo and it was taken with his iPad so it's blurry when I blow it up. He didn't say much in his letter to me. I get to Skype with him next Sunday so maybe I'll find out more then, but if it's like the Christmas Skype, he won't talk much and no stories. We'll see.
I was able to be in contact with his other companion's moms on a Facebook group for moms of missionaries, but it doesn't seem like his current one's mom is on there. So no sharing pics or stories. Sad.
This is what he said about the new area in his letter to me:
The branch is bigger than the Yonezawa and is three hours instead of two, but it's hard to compare anything else. It is cooler, but not chilly most of the time. There are four Elders, and three sisters. The sisters are all Japanese, and one of the sisters that was supposed to come got appendicitis right before transfers, so she isn't here. Two sisters came in her place, but we don't know what's going to happen with transfers when the hospital says she can leave. 
Here's his letter to everyone:
This week was my first week in Hachinohe, and it has been fun. It is
quite bigger than Yonezawa, and I will definitely enjoy my time here.

The kanji of the week is: 花見 pronounced hanami, and means to have a
picnic while watching Sakura.

And now for the weeks events.

Monday: we went and did some last minute shopping and I got to say
good bye to some people. We had dinner at a member's house, and shared
a short message.

Tuesday: I can't remember too much from that day, but we did have
lunch with a friend of ours to say goodbye, and we also went to a
hanami party with some friends. We got lots of potential English class
students, and it seems like it will be really fun.

Wednesday: we rode a bus in the morning up to Sendai where I met Elder
H. (one of the other elders in Hachinohe), and then we took a 5
hour bus ride up to Hachinohe. When we got there, we walked to the
church, but it turned out that they cancelled. We eventually found the
other two, and went to the apartment for the night.

Thursday: we went to seminary early in the morning, and then tried to
find a lady's house that Elder B. had only been to once. We got
lost, and couldn't find it, so we just housed in the area. After a
while of that, we went to a park, but no one was there, so we just
housed some more before going and eating dinner.  We then went to
institute until the rest of the night.

Friday: we had weekly planning, and then we went and housed for a bit.
We didn't have too much time after that, so we ate dinner and then
went to the church. Ever Friday we do a thing called fun Friday in
Hachinohe, so we did that. But no one showed up, so we just played
card games and I played piano. The sister missionaries arrived, and we
talked for a little bit before we went back to the apartment for the

Saturday: we met a missionary couple at the church in the morning to
give the sister missionaries a bike (there are three of them and they
only had two bikes. We led them to their apartment, and then after
that they inspected our apartment. When we got back to the church, we
met sister B. unexpectedly.  We talked for a few minutes and did
some studies there while we waited for a member to come pick the two
of us up. When she came, she took us with a recent convert to her
house for s taco party. The recent convert doesn't speak any Japanese
really, so we went to translate for him. The tacos were delicious and
nostalgic, and we also got flan.
We also got to go to more parks, and had housed for a bit before
English class (they have two a week here). It was fun, and I got to
play more piano afterwards. Everyone loved it for some reason, and one
of the youth here kept asking me to play hymns she liked. It was good

Sunday: we had a great testimony meeting, and I was able to bear my
testimony. We also taught a class for one of the hours (it isn't that
usual). After church we had a lesson with the recent convert, and it
went well. It was really interesting teaching in English though. We
then housed for a bit before we went back to the apartment and had
studies for the rest of the day.

I hope you are all doing well, and that you know that I seriously care
about you all.


Elder _______

Monday, April 27, 2015

Many Changes

Alex got word that he will be transferring to a new area and leaving behind his companion, Elder F.  He doesn't say much about his emotions ever, but I am a bit sad for the people he will be leaving behind. But I'm sure it will be fun to get to know another area of Japan and to meet new people.

The Book of Mormon in Japanese. Notice how their books are read the opposite of ours.

Elder F., Alex's companion that he's leaving in Yonezawa

The city he will be in is Hachinohe, which is on the coast and very north, so the weather is still cooler there. It was one of the cities that was hit hard by the 2011 tsunamis.

When I asked Alex where they do their laundry, he said that they have "laundry machines" in their apartment. We've seen some changes in his English since he's been there, but told his sister that he doesn't think he'll forget English. I don't know how laundry at the new place will be for him.

People taking photos at the sakura (cherry blossom) festival
This is Alex's letter----

A while ago, I had mentioned that I wanted to learn Japanese sign
language so that I can speak to deaf people here, and now I'll have
the opportunity to learn lots of it! More info on that below (hint:
see Saturday's summary). Also, this week was Sakura (cherry blossom)
week, so I'll probably send pictures of that if I didn't include it in
this part.

This week's kanji is: 時代 pronounced gee-die and means era or time period.

And now for the week's summary (done with out a planner because I
brought the wrong one, so it may not be as accurate).

Monday: we had fun at the apartment, and in the evening tried to visit
some people. We got to go into one of our investigators home for a
lesson, and that was good. We also tried to visit an old investigator,
but it turned out that she had moved, and that it was a guy who lived
there, and didn't have too much interest.


Tuesday: we had companion exchanges, and I got to work with Elder
P. He is really fun to talk to, and we had a great time. We went
to visit someone in a neighboring city at her work, and when I went up
to her she started to freak out and was really happy to see us. She
kept on saying "you came!"  She has been really busy with work, but
wants to take the lessons again, so that should happen soon.

Wednesday: I can't remember much from this day, but we went to the
shrine to talk to people, because there were lots of people there
because of all the Sakura they have there. We also had English class
in the evening, and that was fun.

 Thursday: we had District Training Meeting with the zone leaders in
the morning, and it was really spiritual. After that went to go visit
a man called Mr. Iwai, which in English translates to "Rockwell"
interestingly enough. He was healthy, and we stayed long enough for
Elder F. and him to get acquainted, and then went and had lunch.
After lunch we went to the church for a lesson with one of our English
class students. She wanted to start getting private English lessons,
so she wanted to do the program we have of 30 minutes English, 30
minute Japanese/gospel for it. She asked a lot of great questions, and
a member who came to help us out really helped out a lot in explaining
things. We also went back to the shrine and the park nearby to talk to
people again.

Friday: we went to go hang a poster up in a high school, and when we
asked they said that the principal was coming to talk to us. We were
both a bit unsure of how it would go, but she was really open and
nice. She talked to us for a while (just normal conversation stuff)
and said she'd hang up the poster. We then went to visit a less active
member. He was nice as always, and we shared a quick message with him
before we left. Again we went to the park (there were lots of people


Saturday: in the morning we went to a sign language circle. We learned
a lot during it, and I really wanted to learn it more because of it.
That day was when we got transfer calls for the upcoming transfers,
and we happened to be in the signing circle when President Smith
called us. I found out that I will be leaving the good city of
Yonezawa and traveling all the way north to the city of Hachinohe.
There are lots of deaf members of the church there, so there will be a
big opportunity to learn sign language there. My new companion will be
Elder B.  I am looking forward to the experiences I'll have
there. Also, as people have mentioned to me quite often, the Sakura
haven't bloomed there yet, so I'll get to see Sakura twice this year.

We then went to eat ramen at a ramen shop that someone we met a while
ago works at. The ramen was really good, and the ramen I got was
called Yonezawa ramen. I'm not sure what the difference was from other
ramen, but it was good, so I can't complain. From there we went back
to the apartment and I packed some of my stuff and then we went to the
park again. We stayed there for a while, but weren't able to talk to
too many people (we didn't go at a good time to see people).

We then went to play basketball for my last time in Yonezawa. It was
lots of fun, and the boys we play with were sad that I was leaving. I
really hope I meet them again.

I like this close-up of the sakura with the missionaries blurred

I think this is the last photo of the 4 roomies together. What handsome young men. Thanks to Elder F. for this shot!
Sunday: in the morning, we went to church. I said goodbye to everyone,
and one of our investigators came, and gave me a cake with a not from
her, and also a picture that was drawn by her three year old daughter
of my face. She gave it to me in a Studio Ghibli bag, because she knew
I liked Studio Ghibli. We then went back to the apartment, and I
packed most of my stuff. We also got to go visit a lot of the people I
knew to say goodbye to them.

I hope this email was a good read, and that you all have a great week.

I love you all.
Elder __________

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lazy Day Workout Videos Part 1

Some people work out because they enjoy it. I don't enjoy it. I do it because my family has a history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and because I like to eat dessert sometimes and still fit into my clothes. Well, I've allowed myself to gain a little bit of weight recently even though I do some exercise 5 or 6 days a week (obviously not enough) and for someone as short as me (5'1"), a little extra is a lot noticeable. I need to get rid of it soon so I can comfortably fit into my clothes again.

So in addition to my regular workouts and time on my treadmill, I have been doing different YouTube video workouts. When I was doing a couple of these short ones, I started thinking how they work certain muscles really well and burn calories in a short amount of time. Of course, it wouldn't be enough all alone every day, but next time I feel like skipping a day because I feel lazy, I will tell myself that I can surely do 13 minutes of exercise.

Maybe this will help others too who may have a lazy day or a busy day or maybe even someone who is afraid to start exercising because it's so daunting.  I'll be looking around for more short workouts for future posts and for my workout routine list. 

The videos I have been using are from JessicaSmithTV on YoutTube. You can go to her channel and check out a lot more (some longer and some shorter), even videos with Q&A about fitness questions.